Rick Tomm was named the Buffalo Bills & National Guard High School Football Coach of the Week #6 after North Tonawanda beat Starpoint 7-0 in a big Class A North contest last weekend.
The Lumberjacks scored the game's only touchdown right before the first half. Shaun O'Lay tossed a halfback option pass to Ian Gilhausen for a 14-yard touchdown.
"When a defense is playing against our option, the secondary has to get involved with stopping the run game," said Tomm. "It was a great time to make that call, and it worked."
Tomm, a first-year head coach, replaced Eric Jantzi who resigned the position after the 2011 season.
"When Jantzi stepped aside, we were all taken aback," Tomm said. "We were all really surprised."
Tomm could be forgiven for feeling shocked. He was an assistant on staff at NT since 1994. He was Jantzi's defensive coordinator since 2003.
"We had coached together for years," he said. "We just thought Eric would be there forever."
Initially, Tomm wasn't sure if he wanted to be the head coach.
"It was nothing I aspired to be," he said. "I'm honored that they chose me, but I really had take a step back for a few days."
Tomm says that he had to learn a new approach when he was named the head coach.
"You really have to learn how to organize, and you have to trust your assistant coaches. Our assistant coaches work their tails off and they deserve some credit for this. They are dedicated all year-round. It's easy to be dedicated during the season, but it's tough to be just as dedicated in the winter."
Tomm also pointed out that the NT staff has remained remarkably consistent over the years. Defensive Coordinator Corey Zayatz has been at NT since 1994. Offensive Coordinator Frank Fusco moved to the varsity level after coaching the freshman team last season.
"That's huge," Tomm said. "When you're coaching together for that long, you trust each other and have fun together. When you spend so much time together during the season, it's a real important piece of coaching."
Tomm says that the relationships between coaches do affect the players.
"It gives the players consistency, and the players develop a level of confidence when they see your staff working well together."
North Tonawanda has been so consistent that the playbook hasn't changed much - even with the new head coach.
"We've always changed a little every year," Tomm said. "We've always tweaked things. But we've had a lot of success over the past 10 years and I really didn't want to rock the applecart too much."
In the win over Starpoint, NT scored their touchdown on a play that was very familiar to longtime Lumberjack fans. The halfback option has been a staple of the NT offense for years.
"We won our state title game with that same play," Tomm said. "It was the same formation, same play, same everything."
Tomm works as a math teacher in the special education program at North Tonawanda. Ironically, he had never planned to go into teaching or coaching.
"After college I went to work on Wall Street," he said. "I worked for JP Morgan in Euro Bonds. It was back-office stuff. I had to make sure everything was in order with the trades at the end of the day."
Tomm's flirtation with Wall Street didn't last long...just two years.
"I found out I liked teaching better," he said. "When you're young, you chase what you think is your dream but eventually, you fall into what you really love doing."
Each week during the 11-week high school football season a committee appointed by the Buffalo Bills will select a high school football head coach as the Buffalo Bills & National Guard Coach of the Week. Each honoree will receive a $2,000 donation to their high school football program from the Buffalo Bills Youth Foundation and New York National Guard. The eleven finalists are also eligible for the Buffalo Bills & National Guard High School Coach of the Year Award where an additional $2,000 grant for their high school's football program will be given.
As a result of Tomm being named the week six Buffalo Bills & National Guard High School Coach of the Week winner, the Lumberjacks football program will be given the $2,000 awarded by the Bills and the New York National Guard.
Bills & National Guard Coach of the Week Winners:
Week 1: Steve McDuffie, Bennett Tigers
Week 2: John Faller, Sweet Home Panthers
Week 3: Dennis Gilbert, St. Joe's Marauders
Week 4: Jason Marsh, Salamanca Warriors
Week 5: Dick Diminuco, Alden Bulldogs
Week 6: Rick Tomm, North Tonawanda Lumberjacks